The winter months can be a hard time of year. First we struggle with colder weather, shorter days, holiday anxiety, family tension and all the rest of it. Then after we have successfully survived the holiday season, we are faced with a number of grey weeks that turn into months. We are then also tasked with colds, poor driving conditions and frustration which makes spring feel like it is eons away.
With 90 days to go until the bloom of spring, we need to find ways to keep our spirits up and for some, to battle Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. As a form of depression, many people experience the common symptoms of:
• Increased appetite with weight gain
• Increased sleep and daytime sleepiness
• Less energy and ability to concentrate in the afternoon
• Loss of interest in work or other activities
• Slow, sluggish, lethargic movement
• Social withdrawal
• Unhappiness and irritability
So how do we combat the harder days? For some people, it can be as basic as finding the energy to get outside and partake in basic exercise. For others, it can take a little more motivation, and in some cases, assistance from a professional. That being said, there are a number of basic tactics we can all use when faced with a sluggish day with a little desire to do anything.
• Proper sleep – We often think of sleep as providing us with extra energy, but in some cases it may be adding to our sluggishness. That being said, it is also important to be sure we are sleeping on a regular routine and catching all of the hours we may need in a night.
• Diet and Exercise – This will not only help your mood control, but will have the obvious physical effects. Exercise will also increase your light exposure. Keeping a healthy diet will help avoid any unnecessary weight gain that may affect your overall mood and self image.
• Herbs, Vitamins and Supplements – As part of a healthy diet, it is important to be sure you are meeting all of your daily intake requirements.
• Stress Management – We all take advantage of the summer months to take vacation and time for ourselves. This could also be considered for the winter months.
• More Light – Living and working in a well lit environment will help you to feel more cheerful and comfortable.
• Keeping social – Keeping busy and engaged will help you to avoid the bad habits we all fall into when the bad weather hits.
As someone who has struggled with seasonality, I also have recognized the importance of acknowledging and accepting this. It can take more work and energy to make sure I am eating, sleeping and exercising properly and regularly, but I also know what it feels like when this becomes unbalanced.
For anyone who may be experiencing the winter blues, I recommend you go and speak to a professional. This is a very common disorder that many of the population face.
To learn more:
– Rosenthal, N.E. (2006). Winter blues: everything you need to know to beat seasonal affective disorder. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
– Vorvick, L.J. (2011). Seasonal affective disorder. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002499/
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